Our community, alongside others in the country and around the world, are dealing both the physical and the economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus, which has left many facing uncertain financial situations. We are here to help owners and tenants work through these challenges so that together we can weather this storm safely and successfully. We are committed to ongoing communication and sharing as many details as possible regarding rent payment and other rental related considerations during this unprecedented time in order to provide clarity for all. The situation, along with provincial and federal responses to it, continues to change daily, so we are constantly adjusting our processes and the information we provide to you, as these updates pour in.
To keep information simple and clear, we have structured it in the form of answers to FAQs. If you have more questions with respect to how this information impacts you directly, please talk to your property manager with regards to your unique situation.
What supports are available for tenants and owners who are facing financial challenges due to the COVID-19 situation?
For anyone facing financial difficulties due to COVID-19 and concerned about their ability to pay monthly bills such as mortgage or rent, there are several federal and provincial financial support measures that they may be eligible for, including increased GST rebates, increased provincial childcare benefits, standard EI benefits and the up to $900 bi-weekly for 15 weeks that can be accessed by those who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19, taking care of a sick family member with COVID-19, and/or parents who must stay home to care for children due to school and daycare closures. Canada’s largest banks are also offering mortgage payment relief to approved customers by way of deferred mortgage payments, not to be confused with mortgage forgiveness. You can access more information regarding these measures on the following federal and provincial websites:
- Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan – Support for Individuals
- BC Financial Supports in Response to COVID-19
Do tenants still have to pay rent?
Yes, rent remains due on the first of each month. Rents are not forgiven or waived; however, if tenants are unable to pay their rent in full, we urge them to talk to their property manager, so that together we can make a plan to deal with the situation.
Is there any support specifically in place to help tenants pay rent?
Yes! In addition to the above noted support measures, the BC government has announced a robust program designed to assist tenants who may need help in making ends meet to pay their rent. This program was designed with the vulnerable in mind – renters who have faced loss of employment due to the COVID-19 crisis. A $500 rental subsidy, administered by BC Housing, is available to tenants who have needed to apply for Employment Insurance or the Federal Governments Emergency Care Fund as a result of the ongoing pandemic. The tenant must apply for the rental benefit as part of their application for Employment Insurance Benefits.
This program was announced on Wednesday, March 25th and the process is still under development, so at this time we do not know when this program will fully launch and how exactly tenants will be able access it. That being said, if tenants believe they qualify for and will need to access this program, they should let their property manager know so that we can coordinate our efforts.
As noted previously, we ask all tenants who anticipate a delay in being able to pay rent to reach out directly to their property manager. Each situation is unique, so owners, tenants and property managers will all need to have conversations about the options available to them. In these times, none of us know what will happen next but keeping the lines of communication open is key to us all getting through this successfully.
Are cash payments being accepted?
No, cash payments are not being accepted at this time due to health and safety considerations. As an alternative for those who typically pay cash, we can offer online payment or a cheque drop box at the Victoria office (20 Burnside Road West). Anyone who would like to pay online should contact their property manager directly for their account details.
What other changes or adjustments have been made with respect to rental properties?
A rent increase freeze will be implemented effective April 1st and will be in effect for the duration of the Provincial State of Emergency. The freeze nullifies any rent increases already served with an effective date of April 1st onwards, and prohibits landlords from serving new rent increases while the province is in a state of emergency. This means tenants who have received a rent increase with their rent to be increased April 1st or later will continue to pay their existing rent. Any rent increases that we previously posted for April 1st are therefore rescinded, and we have made the internal adjustments to reverse these changes.
The provincial government’s announcement on March 25th also included some adjustments to procedures, including limiting the number of peoples accessing common areas like laundry rooms or elevators, or restricting access entirely to common spaces like pools and courtyards in order to encourage social distancing and slow the spread of the virus. Also, as a safety precaution, landlords will no longer enter units for routine inspections; however, will maintain access in the case of emergency, such as a fire of flood. Regarding repair requests, urgent repair requests will be prioritized, while non-urgent in-suite repairs and maintenance will be deferred in order to reduce exposure.
We know that this is a time of great uncertainty for you all, and we want you to know that we are here to help you navigate the challenges and find new solutions. We encourage you to reach out to us with any questions.
Your Proline Management Team